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Congratulations, you are pregnant! While you are excited about the news, so many thoughts are racing through your mind! You have this sudden urge to know everything about pregnancy. Remember, as you step into this incredible journey, there’s more to unfurl every single day.
Here are some questions, their answers, and pregnancy care tips that can come in handy as you prepare for your baby to be born.
What is a Healthy Pregnancy?
Today, everyone aims towards a balanced and healthy lifestyle. This focus on good health is even more pronounced when it comes to lifestyle choices for your baby and you. A healthy mother-to-be and healthy pregnancy go hand-in-hand. In addition to the proper growth and development of the foetus, a healthy pregnancy also includes various factors such as a healthy weight, balanced diet, nutritious food, regular exercises, adequate rest, and emotional well-being. It also involves maintaining a normal blood pressure, normal blood sugar level and a big no to drugs, alcohol and smoking.
How Should You Take Care of Your Health During Pregnancy?
You can increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy if you take good care of your health. Not only does a healthy lifestyle ensure a smooth pregnancy, but it also adds to your overall well-being. The first trimester is crucial for you as you are taking baby steps into the journey of pregnancy.
- Early Pregnancy Care
Proper care for a healthy pregnancy should start as soon as you realise you are pregnant. Here are some important points you must keep in mind during the early stages of pregnancy:
- Consult your doctor and get early prenatal care which includes the required prenatal tests.
- Take care of your diet, and avoid undercooked food, cold meat and unpasteurized dairy products to avoid ingesting bacteria that might harm the baby. Eat healthy and fresh food
- Take prenatal vitamins and other required supplements like iron and folic acid. Folic acid is necessary to reduce the risk of tube birth defects in babies
- Get adequate rest, and exercise as required after consulting your doctor
- Pay attention to your emotional health, ensure that you are stress-free, and keep yourself positive and happy because you are likely to be on a rollercoaster ride during pregnancy
- Things to Take Care of During Pregnancy
As the pregnancy progresses, your needs change too. Here are some important things that you must be cautious about throughout pregnancy:
- Wear comfortable footwear and watch your step to avoid a fall
- Wear seat belts while driving and ensure that you sit far away from the air bag
- Avoid taking medicines without consulting your obstetrician
- Avoid alcohol and smoking. Passive smoking is also harmful
- Avoid caffeine and products with artificial colours
- Avoid dehydration by drinking lots of water
- Rest your feet to prevent fatigue. Your legs and ankles are prone to swelling. During the day, ensure that you put up your feet at a raised level frequently
- Get adequate sleep and take naps, if required. A minimum of eight hours of sleep is required to keep you healthy
What Can I Do During Pregnancy for a Healthy Baby?
Being pregnant is exciting and also includes a lot of changes in you and your lifestyle. Although staying healthy while pregnant is important to you, your thoughts are always around what you must do to ensure that your baby is healthy. Following are some pointers that can help you deliver a healthy baby:
- Maintain a healthy and nutritious diet because food provides you energy and what you eat is also one of the building blocks of your baby’s body. Eat more fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, grains, eggs and dairy products.
- Take prenatal multivitamin supplements to ensure that you and the baby are receiving all the required nutrients. The neural cord of the baby, which develops into the brain and spinal cord, requires vital nutrients like folic acid, calcium, and iron from the early days of pregnancy.
- Maintain stress-free days. Effective stress management plays an important role in keeping you healthy emotionally.
20 Tips for a Healthy & Safe Pregnancy
As some of your questions about healthy pregnancy have been answered, let us now look at twenty quick tips that can come in handy for a healthy and safe pregnancy.
1. Organising Early Prenatal Care
Your first step would be to find a good doctor and a birthing centre during the early stages of your pregnancy so that you get the required prenatal care. Ensure that you choose a qualified, easily approachable doctor who can provide you with adequate guidance. It is advisable to plan the required ultrasound scans and tests in advance, so that you are aware of them and are well-prepared.
There are various pregnancy tests and scans, which are used for screening certain conditions and determine the health of the foetus and catch irregularities, well in advance.
2. Eat Wholesome and Nutritious Food
Your body requires energy. Eating healthy and nutritious food is vital for the baby and to ensure optimal mother care during pregnancy. Eating whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, eggs, organic meats and dairy products ensure that you are getting the adequate nutrients. These foods contain minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids, amino acids and other nutrients. Although you need food to keep you moving, you also need to watch what you eat. Avoid junk food.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
Keeping yourself hydrated helps in maintaining the amniotic fluid levels. Ensure that you drink at least 10 full glasses of water every day. Less water can cause morning sickness, tiredness, cramps and also contractions during the second and third trimesters. Carry a water bottle and drink from a glass, stainless steel or BPA-free container so that oestrogen mimicking toxins are not transferred to your baby.
4. Take Prenatal Supplements
To ensure that you and the baby are getting all the required nutrients in a sustainable way, you can take prenatal supplements. Prenatal multivitamins must be taken as supplements and not substituted for natural food. Consult your doctor before taking these multivitamins. Prenatal supplements contain folic acid and iron. Folic acid is a vital component that reduces the risk of the baby developing birth defects. Therefore, it is very important to take these supplements on time.
5. Exercise Regularly
Your body is experiencing many changes. One of the most prominent changes is your shape and weight. Maintaining an active lifestyle with regular exercise will help you stay healthy and flexible. Exercise helps in stress management and goes a long way in helping you curb the demands of labour and motherhood. You can take up any form of physical activity after consulting your doctor. Some activities include walking, swimming and yoga. During pregnancy, the volume of the blood increases, thereby increasing the strain on your heart. A 45-minute workout schedule will boost circulation and strengthen your heart, and your baby will receive oxygen-rich blood for healthy development.
6. Get Some Rest
Adequate sleep and relaxation are required during pregnancy. Ensure that you sleep well and rest your feet as much as possible. Yoga and deep breathing can help you relax and calm down.
7. Avoid Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking
Avoid alcohol as it reaches your baby through the blood. It also increases the chances of giving birth to a baby with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which affects the baby’s mental growth. Drugs and smoking are also equally dangerous as they affect the baby’s growth and health.
8. Reduce Caffeine and Recharge With Fruits
Recharging yourself with fruits is more beneficial than caffeine. Research proves that caffeine increases the chances of miscarriage. Pregnant women are low on iron, and caffeine makes it difficult for your body to absorb iron. So, it is advisable to avoid caffeine.
9. Eliminate Environmental Dangers
If you are exposed to chemicals, pesticides, hazardous elements, radioactive elements, lead and mercury at your work place or home regularly, you must contact your doctor and seek advice as these are dangerous to you and your baby.
10. See Your Dentist
Hormonal changes during pregnancy lead to weaker gums. It is advisable to visit your dentist and take precautions to avoid gum diseases. An increase in oestrogen and progesterone levels can cause bleeding and tender gums. So, oral care is very important during pregnancy.
11. Watch Your Emotional Health
Due to hormonal shifts during pregnancy, you might experience mood swings and emotional ups and downs. If you think you are depressed and it is affecting you, ensure that you get help and bounce back to normalcy.
12. Strengthening Pelvic Floor Muscles
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles helps in easy delivery. It supports your uterus, bowels and bladder. Prenatal workouts under guidance help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
13. Track Your Weight Gain
A steady rise in your weight indicates the growth of the baby. So, tracking your weight is important to ensure that you are on the right track.
14. Wear Appropriate Clothing
Ensure that you get yourself comfortable clothing. As your weight and shape will be changing rapidly, fitting yourself in tight clothing can suffocate you and the baby.
15. Wear Appropriate Footwear
As your pregnancy progresses, your weight gain hampers the centre of gravity and creates a painful pressure on your feet. So, it is advisable to shop for footwear that is easy on your feet.
16. Take Care of Your Skin
During pregnancy, your skin becomes sensitive to sunlight. You are prone to sunburns and dark spots. Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
17. Pamper Yourself
Although you need to watch what you eat, listen to your body and feed the cravings that pop up occasionally. Also, pamper yourself with a lunch out, manicure, a much-needed day out with friends, or by taking a quiet walk to help you de-stress. These activities help both you and the baby.
18. Educate Yourself
Educate yourself about the different stages of pregnancy and be aware of the times when you need to seek medical help. Call your doctor if you have:
- Severe pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Fluid leaking
- Swelling of joints
- A reduction in the movement of the foetus
19. Stress Management
Pregnancy-related lifestyle changes and hormonal changes may be demanding. Life during pregnancy is a rollercoaster ride and can overwhelm you. So, working towards managing stress is important. You can manage stress by changing how you react to situations at home and work. Meditation, yoga, talking to friends and involving in craft activities can help you be stress-free.
20. Talk to Your Baby
Talking to your baby, who is cuddled in your womb, can be a memorable and soul-soothing activity. It helps you build the bond and communicate with the little one. You can tell your baby how you feel, about your family, things that you eat and activities that you do. You can also sing and read to your baby.
Signs of a Healthy Pregnancy
Keeping a tab on your health on a day-to-day basis and being aware of your general health goes a long way in ensuring that your pregnancy stays on the right track. Listen to your body and catch the signs so that you may pander to the needs it indicates. If you are hungry, eat a healthy snack and steer clear of junk food. If you are thirsty, drink water, or a nourishing drink like a fresh juice or coconut water, and avoid caffeine and aerated beverages. If you feel stressed, take time to relax with a good book, or take a nap. Besides, do keep a tab on your vitals which are indicators of good health. These include:
- Normal Blood Sugar and Blood Pressure Levels
During pregnancy, the blood pressure levels are a little on the higher side, while the sugar levels vary. Therefore, it is required to monitor the blood pressure and the blood sugar levels. If possible, maintain a record so that you may discuss it with your doctor when needed.
- Health of the Uterus and Placenta
The uterus and the placenta must be healthy to ensure that the foetus is safe until the end of the pregnancy. The placenta is attached to the wall of the uterus. A loosely-attached placenta can lead to serious consequences. Do ask your doctor about the placement of your placenta, and about exercises that will help it be appropriately positioned .
- Development of the Foetus
The growth of the baby and the health of the pregnancy are determined by the rate at which the foetus is developing. Factors such as weight gain determine the growth of the foetus. Lack of oxygen can be one of the factors that affect the foetus. Sometimes, this can interfere with the functions of the placenta. The movement of the foetus ensures that the baby is receiving adequate oxygen. You can start to feel the foetus movements as you advance into the second trimester of pregnancy. Feeling these movements and keeping a count of them indicates the health of your pregnancy.
- Weight Gain
A steady increase in your weight determines the growth of the foetus and eventually, the health of the pregnancy.
Plunging head-on into physical and emotional wellness, nutrition and health act as catalysts that boost your well-being during pregnancy. Immersing yourself in joy and taking care of your physical and emotional health will help you sail smoothly through this memorable journey.